1. Welcome to Bush Babies

      The bush babies sanctuary is one of several sanctuaries in a group of sanctuaries, including the elephant sanctuary that provides for orphaned and abused animals. Situated west of Hartbeesport Dam alongside the Elephant sanctuary it provides an environment where monkeys (primates) can be given their freedom in a natural environment. The sanctuary situated in one of the many Kloofs (Gorges) of the Magaliesberg mountain range provides the perfect environment for Monkeys from around the world.
      Bush Babies Facts & Stats
      Bushbabies is home to a number of exotic species. These are some you can expect to see whilst on tour:

      Squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus)
      One of our smaller species, common squirrel monkeys reside within our sanctuary in harmony with the larger capuchins and spider monkeys. Because of their tiny size, they are often tricky to photograph in the wild (see Bushbabies Photo Contest!) and are naturally vulnerable to predators such as hawks, jaguars and snakes. Relatively independent in nature, squirrel monkeys (even those kept as pets) generally do not crave human attention as other known species have, such as the inquisitive capuchin monkey.

      Physical Characteristics:
      The squirrel monkey's colouration is grey with traces of red-orange fur and yellow-orange arms, hands and feet. Their ears have small tufts of white fur on the ends, as well as around their eyes. Upon looking closer, one can see the circle of brown-black fur surrounding their mouths. Squirrel monkeys are very light: males weigh 554-1150g, and are only approximately 318mm long. Females are slight heavier at 651-1250g, and approximately 316mm long. In case you find yourself spotting squirrel monkeys in their natural habitat, take note that the other subspecies, saimiri boilviensis or Bolivian squirrel monkey, has a much darker head and larger tail than the common squirrel monkey. The tail of both species is non-prehensile.

      Habitat:
      Squirrel monkeys naturally range from Brazil in the east of South America to Peru and Ecuador in the northwest (generally along the Amazon River). These primates live in the tropical lowland rainforest of the river, in a humid and damp environment. Squirrel monkeys spend much of their time in the trees as well as on the ground, making them quadrupedal-arboreal. They are not however good jumpers, leaping only about 2m or less at a time.

      Diet:
      Squirrel monkeys are insectivore-frugivores. Therefore, their diet consists mainly of insects and fruit. It is not uncommon to see them eating worms and butterflies as they forage. In the wilds of the New World, they have even been known to attack and eat small birds and bats! It can be said that squirrel monkeys are certainly not lazy, as they only spend roughly 10 percent of their day resting.

      Life Cycle:
      Squirrel monkeys give birth to a single offspring, for which the gestation period is 145 days. Females assume the most responsibility of the young's upbringing, with the infants being carried on their backs for about a month after birth. On average, squirrel monkeys live for about 20 years

      Capuchin Monkeys (tufted capuchin)  cebus apella
      Long known to be the most intelligent of monkeys, capuchins are most commonly targeted for the pet trade because of their “entertaining nature”. In reality, they don’t make very good pets (see article).

      Physical Characteristics:
      Tufted capuchins such as Bonnie, have a “signature” tuft of dark hair on the tops of their heads. When they are very young, they do not have such tufts, and when they are juvenile, two little “horns” of hair begin to grow on their heads, looking quite like little devils! Finally, at maturity, their heads sport good-looking tufts. Body colour is light to dark brown. Their tail is semi-prehensile (they can use it to grip onto branches, but not to full effect). Approximate length is 70cm to 1m, and weight about 3kg, with males being heavier than females.

      Habitat:
      From Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, to Venezuela in the north. They fare particularly well in dry lowland areas quite similar to our own.

      Diet:
      Fruit, seeds, pith, nectar and animals such as insects, birds, eggs, bats and reptiles. Their high intelligence is observed while they forage in our sanctuary, often using rocks to split open peanut shells.

      Life Cycle:
      Capuchins gestate for 5-6 months, and give birth to a single offspring. Captive examples typically live up to 45 years. Here at Bushbabies, we always tell people thinking of keeping these wild animals as pets that capuchins behave like 3 year-olds but for 40 years!

      Black-handed spider monkeys
        Ateles geoffroyi
      Frankie has become quite the celebrity at the Sanctuary, mostly because of his bright blue eyes! An outstanding feature of these somewhat odd-looking primates is their fully-prehensile tail, which can grip and hold onto just about anything possible to facilitate movement in the trees.

      Phsycial Characteristics:
      The spider monkey’s fur can be black or blonde, although mostly dark with a lighter belly, such as old Frankie and his girlfriend. Adults weigh between 6-8kg, and measure about 30-70cm tall when walking upright (a feat they can do quite well). Spider monkeys do not have thumbs – another feature that facilitates their effortless swinging from branch to branch.

      Habitat:
      Unlike the squirrel and capuchin monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys live in Central America, from Mexico in the northeast all the way to Costa Rica and Panama in the south. They are primarily arboreal, spending most of their time in the very tops of trees. It is a common notion that monkeys “swing from tree to tree,” however, most can’t as they do not have full movement of their arms as apes do (try hanging from a monkey-bar – easy, isn’t it?). Spider monkeys are the exception to the rule, however, and can swing quite easily between branches.

      Diet:
      Fruit, seeds, flowers, insects, leaves and tree bark.

      Life Cycle:
      Spider monkeys give birth to a single offspring after a gestation period of 7-8 months. Sexual maturity is reached at an age of 4-5 years. The average life expectancy is 27 years.

      Ringtail Lemur   Lemur catta
      These furry and relatively placid pro-simians are the latest additions to our sanctuary. They can almost always be seen basking in the sun, sitting in a meditative position much like that of a yoga instructor!

      Physical Characteristics:
      Reddish-grey in colour, with white on their undersides and on the ears. Distinctive rings around their eyes and black and white rings around their tails set them apart from other subspecies, making them quite easy to spot in the wild. Visitors often comment on their black muzzles, looking quite like that of a small dog. The size of males and females is approximately the same, with body length being 42.5 cm on average. Ringtailed lemurs weigh between 2,207-2,213g. One remarkable physical feature of this subspecies is a scent gland located on the underside of each wrist, called a “horny spur.”

      Habitat:
      Ringtailed Lemurs are found in limited forest lands in the south and southwest of Madagascar, making them a vulnerable species. Baring in mind that their home is an island, it is only a matter of time before they are literally contained to a corner of the island and dissipated altogether. Crucial conservations efforts need to be active in protecting the species before this happens.  Unlike other lemur species, ringtails do send most of their time on the ground. Ringtailed lemurs living in dry habitats tend to be more spread out than those living in wet habitats. Natural predators include snakes, raptors, fossas and domestic cats.

      Diet:
      Being omnivores, ringtailed lemurs typically eat flowers, exudates, insects, birds, and the tamarind tree’s leaves and fruit. In particularly dry climates, water is obtained from aloe plants and prickly pear cactuses.

      Life Cycle:
      Although their lifespan in the wild is unknown, it has been estimated to be about 16 years. In captivity, they can live up to 10 years longer.

      Black and White Ruffed Lemurs
           Varecia variegata variegata
      These stunningly-beautiful lemurs are most easily identified by their black and white markings and thick coats. We often think of them as miniature polar-bears, well protected against our cold winters.

      Physical Characteristics:
      Black and white in colouration with fluffy collars (hence the name “ruffed”). On average, they weigh around 3.5kg and are about 110cm long, tail included. As with ringtails, these lemurs sport long noses, giving them a very good sense of smell.

      Habitat:
      Eastern Madagascar. They are primarily arboreal, spending much of their time in the canopy of the primary rainforest. Black and white ruffed lemurs are a protected subspecies.

      Diet:
      Mainly fruit, and seeds, nectar and leaves. Compared to other lemur subspecies, the ruffed variety is primarily fruit-eating. During feeding time at the sanctuary, you will most likely see them going straight for the mixed fruit we lay out for them.

      Life Cycle:
      The gestation period is a little over 3 months. Ruffed lemurs are the only primates that build tree nests prior to infant birth, specifically for the purpose. Typical litter size is usually 1-3 infants. Reminiscent of canines and felines, ruffed lemur females carry their young by mouth, rather than having them hold on for the ride.

      bush_babiess_nagapiesBushbabies
           Galago moholi
      Many folks expect to see bushbabies bouncing around when they arrive at our sanctuary. However, because we have created a natural and wild environment, these little creatures cannot be seen until sunset (about 7-8pm in summer, and 4:45– 6pm in winter).

      Physical Characteristics:
      Bushbabies are some of the smallest prosimian species. Tail included, they measure only 37cm in length and weight about 150g fully grown. Their large, orange-brown eyes allow them to see very well in the dark. If humans had a similar skull structure, our eyes would be the size of soccer balls! Their fur is a light grey with a partly yellow stomach and a white stripe down the nose. Owing to their nocturnal nature, Bushbabies are virtually inactive until sunset, when they emerge to hunt for insects. When a bushbaby jumps from branch to branch, it wipes its hands on its genitals with urine, so as to facilitate grip. This is a very quick process, and can really only be captured on slow-motion film or photographs.

      Habitat:
      Bushbabies mainly live in sub-saharan Africa, but not as far south as the Western Cape. Semi-arid regions such as savannah or scrub forest are preferred.

      Diet:
      Beetles, grasshoppers, scorpions, small reptiles, moths and butterflies. Bushbabies can also be seen gouging acacia tree gum. Their lower jaw juts forward to scrape the sap from the trees. Because our bushbabies are in a “captive” environment, they tend to eat a variety of fruit (particularly bananas) that we give to them on a regular basis. In the wild, galago maholi is generally not a fruit-eater.

      Life Cycle:
      Bushbabies typically give birth to one offspring at a time. The gestation period is a little over four months. Infants are carried in their mother’s mouth for the first month after birth, thereafter clinging to her back until being completely independent at two to five months old.
       

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